Editors Review- A trip to Stoke by Nayland to watch the LET Access Series.
Many stars have been born on the LET Access Tour, last years Order of Merit winner Meghan Maclaren has already gone on to win on the Ladies European Tour (LET) this year. So when due to work commitments I couldn't make the journey down to the Evian Championship I headed for Stoke by Nayland to watch the WPGA International on the LET Access Tour. After reading through the history of the event I saw that Georgia Hall finished 5th in this event in 2015, so that should be pretty good inspiration to the players.
The Access series is usually played when there is not an LET event so some of the stars from the LET turn out. You also get a really good mixture of pros trying to earn their way on to the full tour (top 5 players on the Order of Merit earn their card), young pros picking up valuable tournament experience and amateurs from the host tour of the country the event is being played in.
After following the tour closely it was great to be able to see the palyers in action in England. Some of the players I had watched at the British Open but it was good to see others in action. Stoke by Naylad is such a great course and everyone involved in putting on the event does a great job.
Going into the final round the winner seemed likely to come from the final group of Manon De Roey (Bel), Lydia Hall (Wales & defending champion) and Felicity Johnson (Eng). While there were challenges from Order of Merit leader Emma Nilsson (Swe) and Linda Henriksson (FIn) they could never really get close enough to put pressure on.
When Johnson rolled in a 30 ft birdie putt on the 9th and Hall holed her 10 footer for birdie they both moved to within 2 shots of the leader De Roey and a back 9 shoot out between all 3 was in store.
Hall put the hammer down and birdied 12,13 and 14 to move to -11 alongside De Roey . Johnson faded slightly but was only 2 behind after 15 after a stunning approach on 15 for birdie.
The pair remained level until the 17th where Hall slightly unlucky off the tee bounced left into the tress and could only find the green side bunker with her approach from the woods. She went on to make 5 and trailed De Roey by 1 going into the last hole.
The last at Stoke by Nayland is a great hole and provided the ideal finish especially in the circumstances. A down hill par 3 of 184 yards over water with the pin tucked over a green side bunker only 5 yards from the back.
De Roey found the back middle of the green 20 ft from the pin. After watching Hall for a number of years and following her at the Open this year i knew she could be aggressive. She didn't disappoint with a stunning shot straight at the pin just running through the back and leaving her a chance at making birdie and forcing a playoff!
De Roey who must have been slightly nervous chasing her first pro win pushed her putt further past than she would have wanted leaving a tricky par putt. The murmurs from the crowd thought Hall could force a playoff with a par. However, she drained her putt form just off the green for an incredible birdie puting all the pressure on De roey to par and make the playoff.
A really gutsy putt put her in the playoff and her and Hall would go back to 18!
Hall would make a mess of the playoff taking 3 to get down from just off the green leaving De Roey to take the win with a par!
Ebonie Lewis (Eng) won the leading amateur finishing in 28th position and it was quite refreshing how easy she made the game look, on 18 there was no real checking of yardages, she just pulled her club out and stuck it in the middle of the green with little time wasted (she also holed the 20 ft putt for birdie!)
It was really fantastic golf to watch and the back 9 holes especially were gripping to watch. I would highly recommend anyone to get down to these events, you have great access to the players and can really get close to the action. What I love about women's golf is the bond between players and getting this close you could really see this in action.
After an early start and a 2 hour drive each way it was back home to catch day 3 and 4 of the Evian Championship, which again produced an exiting finish seeing 40 year old Angela Stanford lift the crown after Amy Olson unfortunately made a mess of the last hole. After an emotional interview it really did put the end to a great week of women's golf and it was great to see the all the coverage live on SKY for a change and not being hidden away somewhere. The crowds looked good in France and hopefully it encouraged a few more girls to pick up a club. I am sure Hall and De Roey's battle defiantly would have inspired those watching. It did me, as I managed to get home just before dark and hit some balls!
The LET is back in action this week! so there is even more golf to come! Follow us on social media (golfista.club) and we will keep you up to date with all the action from around the world of women's golf.
Leading scores: M De Roey (Belgium) 205 (-11), L Hall (Wales) 205 (-11); F Johnson (England) 208 (-8); E Nilsson (Sweden) 210 (-6)